My 15 year old son came home today and said "Now I really have some ghetto cred!"
He had been walking near Brick Lane when two cops approached and said they could smell marijuana on his person.
This was patently a lie, yet the police, without any valid reason whatsoever, proceeded to search him. They also asked for identity papers (not legally enforceable in this country). Then they filed an incident report. All because... he is young, urban, and male.
We've all been joking about it - the experience is a rite of passage for inner city youth.
But it is also deeply troubling, because the cops honestly had no reason to harass my kid. What, he wears sneakers and a hoodie? That is not probable cause. I could rattle on about the particulars of this situation and my family, but the specifics do not matter. Cops don't see any of us as individuals with emotions, aspirations, hopes, dreams, and potential. Cops think "poor neighbourhood, criminal kids." They think our boys are bad, because we live here.
But young men are not categorically criminals. Kids in the ghetto are not by definition perpetrators. There is a connection between poverty and crime, but that doesn't mean that every youth walking around on a sunny day is looking for trouble.
Though apparently, the cops are, and if they can't find it they will make some.
It does not make me feel safer to know that police resources are devoted to harassing kids.
It does not make kids more likely to respect authority when they are hassled without cause.
The whole thing is just wrong, bad, and sickening.